Recess is a regularly scheduled period in the school day for physical activity and play that is monitored by trained staff or volunteers.1,2 During recess, students are encouraged to be physically active and engaged with their peers in activities of their choice, at all grade levels, kindergarten through 12th grade.1,3
Recess benefits students by:1,4-7
- Increasing their level of physical activity.
- Improving their memory, attention, and concentration.
- Helping them stay on-task in the classroom.
- Reducing disruptive behavior in the classroom.
- Improving their social and emotional development (e.g., learning how to share and negotiate).
Keep Recess in Schools [PDF – 337 KB]—This data brief defines recess, provides a snapshot of current recess practices in the United States, and highlights ways to improve recess through national guidance and practical strategies and resources. This was developed by Springboard to Active Schools in collaboration with CDC.
CDC and SHAPE America developed the following documents:
|Strategies for Recess in Schools [PDF – 7 MB]—Evidence-based strategies for planning and providing recess in schools to increase physical activity participation and improve academic achievement (e.g., performance, behavior, attention).|
|Recess Planning in Schools [PDF – 5 MB]—Helps schools put the Strategies for Recess in Schools into practice when developing a written school recess plan.
Recess Planning Template [DOCX -97KB]—Provides a customizable template for schools to use when developing their school recess plan.
Physical Activity During School: Providing Recess to All Students [PPT – 6 MB] [PDF – 3.4 MB]—explains the benefit and importance of recess and CDC andSHAPE America’s new resources for recess.
Resources for Recess in Schools Promotion Kit [PDF – 675KB]—Promote the resources for recess to your partners and constituents.
During the 2020–2021 school year, four local education agencies (LEAs) and one pilot school in Oklahoma implemented Painted Play Spaces on their campuses, reaching a total of 2,469 students. Learn more about how these efforts can enhance the play environments at schools by using colorful paint and stencils to create recess games.
- CDC Ideas for Parents: Recess [PDF – 1 MB]
- CDC and SHAPE America: Recess Planning in Schools: A Guide to Putting Strategies for Recess into Practice (2017) [PDF – 1.9 MB]
- CDC and SHAPE America: Recess Planning Template (2017) [DOCX – 98 KB]
- CDC and SHAPE America: Strategies for Recess in Schools (2017) [PDF – 2.57 MB]
- Oklahoma Education: Painted Play Spaces Assessment and Planning Toolkit [PDF – 1.17MB]
- Peaceful Playgrounds 60 Alternatives to Withholding Recess
- Playworks Game Guide
- Playworks Playbook
- Playworks Recess Lab
- SHAPE America: Guide for Recess Policy (2016)
- Institute of Medicine. Educating the Student Body: Taking Physical Activity and Physical Education to School. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2013. Available at: http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=18314&page=R1.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A Guide for Developing Comprehensive School Physical Activity Programs. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Dept of Health and Human Services; 2013.
- SHAPE America. Guide for Recess Policy. Reston, VA: SHAPE America; 2016.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Association Between School-Based Physical Activity, Including Physical Education, and Academic Performance. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US Dept of Health and Human Services; 2010.
- Michael SL, Merlo C, Basch C, Wentzel K, Wechsler H. Critical connections: health and academics. J School Health. 2015;85(11):740–758.
- Fortson J, James-Burdumy S, Bleeker M, et al. Impact and Implementation Findings from an Experimental Evaluation of Playworks: Effects on School Climate, Academic Learning, Student Social Skills and Behavior. Princeton, NJ: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; 2013.